Five years ago I spent a lovely vacation with my grandmother. It was before I was married with kids and we were free to do whatever we wanted. (Don’t read that the wrong way, I don’t feel burdened by my kids and husband — it is just that there is a different sort of fluidity to the day when you are not responsible for naps, meals, etc.) One specific thing that I wanted to do during the vacation, in addition to visiting family, seeing the old homestead, eating butter tarts, etc., was make crabapple jelly. It was always a staple at our house, lovingly made each year by Nana. It is also the type of thing that I needed to experience with her if I ever wanted to be able to recreate it on my own.
So, here are the instructions. I basically wrote down exactly what Nana said, word for word and snapped a few pictures along the way.
Pick the apples when they are ready, late August or early September. Get a couple of baskets of crabapples (off the tree, not the ground). Wash them.
Cut them to check for worms, take out the stem and some of the seeds. Put them in a large pot with some water — not quite to the top of where the crabapples are.
Boil until they are done and the water has thickened into kind of a mushy sauce.
Set up the bags for juicing. Once the apples are ready, put them in the bags and let them drain. Once they are cool, squeeze any additional juice into the bowl. Put into jars and refrigerator for the next step (this is not entirely necessary).
Get wax ready. [In otherwords, melt it.]
Put two tablespoons of Certo Crystals with three cups of juice into a pot. [Certo Crystals, as I understand it, are a type of pectin.] Heat on high until it comes to a boil and make sure all of the crystals are dissolved.
Add 4 cups of sugar [Really?! We used that much? No wonder it is so good.] and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Add about 1 tsp of butter, to prevent too much scum, just as it starts to boil. Skim any scum off. [Nice. There’s got to be a better word than scum, eh?]
Pour jelly into jars. Have melted wax (paraffin) ready and pour over top of the jelly. Wait until paraffin sets to put the lids on.
That’s it folks. I also have a little list that I made at the bottom of my notes and since I’ve written everything else from that day here, I’ll add this little list too. I can’t remember if she meant that these fruits require more/less pectin in the mix or if the fruits naturally have more/less pectin in them. I am tending to think the latter, but I may just call her and ask.
More pectin: red/black currants, crabapples, wild grapes
Less pectin: elderberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries